After reportedly being in testing for the last few months, Reliance Jio today at its 41st Annual General Meeting has announced that it’s bringing WhatsApp to the country’s most popular feature phone, JioPhone. In addition to that, the telecom operator has announced native apps for YouTube and Facebook as well.
JioPhone is powered by KaiOS, a smarter operating system for feature phones which had recently roped in the search engine giant, Google as one of its investors. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a number of smartphone applications and features made their way, in a hope to acquire the next big chunk of users, to KaiOS. This includes Google’s virtual assistant, Google Maps, and more.
While the details on the new WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube apps for JioPhone are quite scarce right now, Reliance did mention they are compatible with voice commands allowing you to simply talk to the inbuilt virtual assistant for replying, sending text messages, playing videos, and more. It’s, however, not known whether these apps support the more advanced features such as video calling.
The difference between the new applications for Facebook, YouTube, and the existing ones is that the former is a set of native apps. That essentially means they’re not just web wrappers and are a lot more integrated with the phone’s internal functions such as the voice assistant, notifications, what have you.
Being the only major instant messaging service available on KaiOS, this is a significant win for Facebook’s WhatsApp which already has over 200 million users in India. Although the JioPhone availability will also further contribute to the app’s growing fake news issues which have so far led to twenty-nine deaths by mob lynchings.
The new YouTube, WhatsApp, and Facebook applications will be available for all the JioPhone users from next month’s 15th.